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Common sense with a French accent
le 10 février 2006
As author Mireille Guiliano, executive of the company Champagne Veuve Clicquot (for those who don't know, one of the better Champagnes in the world), states, it is of course true that there are some French women who do get overweight. However, there are some common sense ideas that she learned as a child, and observed in seeing the general differences between her time in America and her time in France.
Guiliano works through her ideas on menu, diet, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle with anecdotal and personal experience rather than scientific studies; thus, some may disagree with her conclusions. Guiliano does not put out this book in any way to insult the American lifestyle -- on the contrary, Guiliano has had a love affair with the English language (French being her first language) and American culture since her school days.
One of the first stories Guiliano recounts is her school year spent in America, during what in this country would be known as high school. A prestigious award, she was excited to learn all about American culture; what she also learned about was chocolate chip cookies and brownies, and ended up returning home after a year abroad by at least 15 pounds heavier.
Guiliano reiterates some of the common aspects of French living that Americans have already recognised -- the benefits of red wine on cholesterol, for example, but haven't adapted their general eating habits to reflect good health. Indeed, some have used the use of red wine as an invitation to eat more!
Guiliano's recommendations are in many ways common sense. It makes sense to eat a variety of different kinds of food, and always (as French people who shop in small, street-side farmer's market kinds of shops will know) always pick the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Eating a variety of foods does not mean to 'pig out' -- one should eat a lot of different things, but eat in moderation. This means that one should eat with care and deliberation; one should savour food, which, if the food is well prepared and fresh, should be a real delight. Eating more slowly (something that our 'fast food' culture has almost linguistically removed as a possibility) generally means eating less, as the body will feel more full before large amounts of food are consumed.
Guiliano has a four-phase plan: the wake up call; the recasting phase; the stabilisation phase; and finally, 'the rest of your life'. This is not a dietary 'boot camp', but rather is a gentle, general shift in patterns that allow one to increase some indulgences (in moderation, of course), along with some changes in overall ideas about food.
Guiliano includes recipes, discussions of seasonings that will enhance the culinary experience, ideas for drinking (it should be no surprise that most of us do not drink enough water, and too much by way of soft-drinks), bread and chocolate, and more. The recipes included under the chocolate heading (Chocolate Rice Pudding; Chocolate-Espresso Faux Souffles; Mousse au Chocolat; and Tartine au Cacao) are truly wonderful (I've made two, and am thus guessing on the other two), and show that chocolate is certainly not off limits!
Guiliano's style is fun and witty, and her advice accessible and achievable. It is a diet not just for women, and is a lifestyle that many could easily and happily adapt to.